Monday, August 13, 2012

3 days in Keystone Day 1

Thanks to my awesome wife, we were able to stay in Keystone for 2 nights and 3 days this past weekend!  Ride plans?  Definitely.  Day one was Saturday, which was "my day."  All day.  Yes.  Bike of choice?  My Intense Carbine.  Carbon, light, stiff, super responsive, and 6" of buttery suspension in the back.  And a great climber.  The Carbine is probably my favorite bike of all time and an excellent all arounder.  I couldn't think of a better companion on a journey of this magnitude.  Epic trails and epic adventure were calling my name.

Started off on a trail that looks like this.  I don't know if it was a secret or not, but it started right out of the Keystone Gulch Trailhead, but on the W side of the creek.  Very narrow and good.

 The trail turned quickly into a full on Dave approved outing.  Rocky and rooty.  And wet.  mmmm
then narrow and lush and green.
 Alas, the unknown singletrack quickly ended and I was on a road climbing up to the top of Keystones West Ridge.  That's Keystone in the back.
 And then on to the Colorado Trail.  This section (from either direction) of the CT is among many Colorado riders favorites.  From here down to Tiger Rd is usually climbed, but it's a helluva descent.
 That's Mt Guyot on the left.  My goal for the day was to get up on it's left (northern flank) - Georgia Pass.

 Anytime you see this sign, you know the trail is going to be the goods.  Always top notch quality on the Colorado Trail!

After the CT, I dropped down to Tiger Rd, then south to Georgia Gulch Rd.  The goal was to climb up GA Gulch Rd and head east on an unmarked flume.  True to my nature, I didn't get that far.  I found  brand spankin new moto trail kind of sort of generally going in more or less the right direction.  I took it.
 The moto trail was a mix of sweet new singletrack and old closed doubletrack.  I'd recommend it but I have no idea what it was called.  Seems like all of the the trails in and around that Golden Horseshoe area are all numbered in ways that don't make any intuitive sense.  Anyway, the trail popped out onto a road that was a dead end spur off of FS355, the road up to Georgia Pass.  I could've taken the easy way to Georgia Pass - I could've dropped down to 355 and climbed up to the pass.  But...  That flume trail was waiting.  Friend Bryan rode it a year or two ago and said it was sweet.  And it was calling my name.  It was roughly 4-500' vertical directly above me...  Of course, I went against my better judgement and shouldered the bike.  Up, up I was headed.  Thru the woods, total bushwack mission.  That mission turned sour about 3 minutes in.  Deadfall all over the place and steeper than shit.  I was not deterred. The hike a bike up the hill was BRUTAL.  Should you ever find yourself in my shoes, do not repeat this.  There was thigh high deadfall all over the place and it was mega steep.  Pretty much worse case scenario.  1/2 hour later (and 2 unused flume crossings later), I had made it to my flume.  The American Flume, allegedly.  And damn, it was good.
 It was in parts, typical flume, flowy singletrac, sketchy rocky, all around excellent stuff.  Even passed thru a scree field in one section.  To say it was a steep off camber was an understatement.  It was narrow, too.  One pedal strike on the right and you'd be careening off the hill, long ways.

The flume was one of the best parts of the entire journy.  For over a mile, I enjoyed it's flow and its change of character, but it would eventually drop me off on FS355 for one final kick before reaching Georgia Pass.  And it was relentless.  So relentless, it actually reminded me of Left Hand.  Fresh, it would've been an ok and mostly tolerable climb, but I was already almost 4 hours in.  I spent some time walking it's super steep pitches.
 After duking it out with motorcyles and all kinds of 4 wheeled motorized contraptions, I finally made it.  Georgia Pass!
 I wanted to stick around to enjoy the view, hike around, and check out the scenery, but there were all kinds of motos and jeeps and quads and over zealous 4wd roll caged golf carts around that I had to scoot.  Plus, weather of an unlikable kind was blowing in rather quickly.  On to the Colorado Trail and the descent to Tiger Road!
 I'm generally a "share the trail with anyone" kind of guy, but let me tell you, Georgia Pass was BUSY.  For as remote as that place is, there were sure a lot of people up there and I was the only one without my motor.  The creators of the CO trail put the Divide crossing few hundred feet higher than that pass for good reason!  The no moto sign was a welcome relief.
 as was the narrow singletrack at timberline.
 The CT between GA pass and Tiger Road was a steep and rocky affair.  I found it quite to my liking.  So much so, in fact, that I only stopped to take a couple of pics.  The rest was with my saddle dropped, chain on the big ring, and a smile on my face.  Permagrin for sure.

 CT back to the West Ridge climb was a joyous affair.  Smooth and buff.  Up and down.  Damn good mountain biking that section, too.  And then on to the West Ridge climb.
 This time, I climbed it, the way most folks do.  I had climbed it only a couple weeks prior in the B68.  This time was different, though.  I was about 6 hours in and my legs were starting to feel like it.  The pain, the horror!  I spent some good quality time hiking that particular section. There was even a moment where both legs were cramping so bad I had to swear loudly.  Not that I ever do that for other reasons.

The typical bike on trail shot during a mandatory, cramp induced break.  The Carbine had proved to be the perfect bike for this mission, zero complaints.  Well, I'd complain about cramping legs, but that wasn't the fault of the bike.
 And finally, to top things off...  Right near the top of the West Ridge climb, the part where there was significantly more descending than climbing left, it started raining.  And raining hard it did.
I quit taking pics about this time. The rest was also a blur.  Super tired, couldn't see, bike was starting to shift on it's own, mud everywhere, clammy shammy, you get the idea.  I kind of don't really remember it all.  You know when you've been on the trail so long you get to that point where your mind is numb from processing singletrack all day?  I was already at that point when the temp dropped and the rain and hail came.  Maybe I put it out of my mind, maybe... I don't know.  By then it was fricking cold and slicker than crap.  I descended Colorado Trail to Red Trail to the Aquaduct Trail.  I made a wrong turn though and ended up on a soft and muddy trail full of standing water and horse crap that turned around and got steep on me - so much so that I had to hike out part of it.  yuck.  Finally to the bike path and a freezing and seemingly forever ride back to our condo on Montezuma Road.

Pure awesome. Maybe the single most memorable and hard and fun ride of the year.  Maybe. And this was only day 1.  2 more days in Keystone to go!

1 comment:

debaser said...

Good on you for getting to the flume.